Community learns how to build complete recycling system as part of innovative new AEB-funded course to train local champions

  • Connected Communities part of innovative part of Mayor’s Test and Learn programme

  • Course designed to inspire and train local people to launch community projects

  • Funded through devolved £53m budget for adult education

Budding community champions have been learning how to build a recycling system thanks to a new course funded by Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

The Connected Communities course was created as part of Mayor Rotheram’s innovative Test and Learn programme which puts experimentation at the heart of adult skills learning across the adult education curriculum.

Funded through the adult education budget and delivered by independent training provider Complete Skills Solutions, the course is designed to inspire and train local people to launch projects that will benefit their local community.

The group of learners devised the recycling project themselves and will install an integrated recycling system in the Kirkdale Community Shop on Walton Road – a social enterprise and low-price supermarket which serves as classroom and community hub.

Connected Communities Course Tutor John Durrant said:

“The course is actually about running a project within the community which is for the benefit of the community. The course not only helps people improve students’ confidence levels and their self-esteem but it also helps to contribute back into what is happening in the community and become part of it.

“This is now the third course that we’ve run and the project that they’ve decided to run here is about recycling. They’re talking about recycling not only the standard stuff like splitting cardboard from landfill and so on but they’re also looking at what can be composted to be used on gardens and allotments.

“Because everything we do is oriented around the community and around the connected communities around the shop people begin to understand the problems and the challenges that there are around the community not only with the people who come here but also in the community as a whole and that also helps to improve them.”

The Combined Authority has been responsible for commissioning and funding adult education since 2019 and the Test and Learn approach has been a feature of delivery since the outset, each year looking at new ways of delivering innovative provision to encourage engagement and progression in learning.

The annual £53m adult education budget (AEB) funds a range of colleges, independent training providers and local authority providers of adult and community learning.

Complete Skills Solutions, which is funded through AEB, was created to help people develop their skills and become economically active. Its range of specially designed courses are designed to listen, engage, build confidence, harness ability and unlock hidden potential.

Managing Director of Complete Skills Solutions, Ian Green added:

“The Connected Communities course is one of several we are now delivering in partnership with Community Shop. It has been incredible to see the appetite for such training and the outcomes to date have been nothing short of brilliant, with individuals wanting to leave lasting positive impacts on their local communities.

“We currently operate from three sites in the region and offer a range of courses to Community Shop members and local residents. Each of these courses are designed to help drive social mobility by giving participants the skills, confidence, and qualifications they need to become more socially and economically active.”

Students have told how the course has helped them.

Sheila Birch said:

“I’ve got a totally new lease of life after coming here. I walk here now every morning and I walk home as well. When I first started the course I was actually using a mobility scooter so it just shows you doesn’t it.

“I think (the recycling project) has brought home to all of us how much it does matter what you put in the bin and what you don’t and if people were made more aware of it I think it would make a massive difference.”

Robert Gardiner said:

“I started here 17 months ago after losing my father. I was really depressed and came in with my sisters and since then I’ve just loved every minute of it. Michelle, the impact leader here, asked me to take the course which is what I done and I’ve loved every minute of it. It has just really built up my confidence.”

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